Reformed Confessions – Overview
The Three Forms of Unity
The Three Forms of Unity are a summary of what we believe, and are based wholly on the Bible. These confessions are common among Reformed churches with origins in the European continent.
The first of the doctrinal standards of the Reformed Churches is the Confession of Faith. It is usually called the Belgic Confession because it originated in the southern Netherlands, now known as Belgium. Its chief author was Guido de Bres, a preacher of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567. It was written to protest against the cruel oppression by the Roman Catholic government, and to prove to the persecuters that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, but law-abiding citizens.
A catechism is a summary of faith in question and answer format. The Heidelberg Catechism was written in Heidelberg, Germany, by two theologians, Zacharius Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, at the request of Elector Frederick III. It was adopted by the Synod of Heidelberg in 1563. The questions and answers are organised into 52 Lord's Days, allowing ministers to preach on one each Sunday of the year.
Canons of Dort
Also known as the Five Articles against the Remonstrants, the Canons of Dort were adopted at the Synod of Dort in 1618–1619, and are statements of doctrine written to define the Reformed doctrine and reject the errors of Arminius and his followers.
Other Reformed Confessions
The Westminster Standards have a similarly common use among Reformed churches (known commonly as the Presbyterian churches) with origins in the British Isles.